Tuesday, August 06, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE, AFP) SA calls mini SADC summit on Zim
19/07/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I Agencies

SOUTH Africa is on Saturday set host a mini-summit of SADC leaders ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 31 elections, to review and assess worrying reports from the ground, a key adviser to President Jacob Zuma has said.

COMMENT - 'Worrying reports from the ground' - that is what those bought and paid for NGOs are about. This is why the foreign funding of NGOs is an assault on national sovereignty. - MrK

The presidents of Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia will join Zuma, Sadc’s facilitator, during the choppy build-up to the presidential and parliamentary polls, at the meeting in Pretoria, Lindiwe Zulu said.

The announcement reflects mounting concern in the region about the risk of further political disorder in Zimbabwe, a fertile and resource-rich country which has declined steadily over the past 15 years. Millions of its citizens have migrated abroad, mostly as economic refugees to South Africa.

"The heads of state will go through the reports already coming in from the ground, from political parties and the Sadc election observers who started arriving this week," Zulu said. "Complaints are being made … but it’s difficult to assess them without a meeting."

Zulu was speaking after a one-day summit in Pretoria between South Africa and the European Union (EU).

Early this week Zulu revealed that President Zuma had phoned President Robert Mugabe to express his concern over preparations for the elections.

"We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good," said Zulu.

The remarks drew fire from Zanu PF officials with politburo member and former information minister Jonathan Moyo dismissing Zulu as an MDC-T sympathiser.

“MDC-T sympathisers and supporters in President Zuma’s facilitation team are now coming out of their closets to openly show their support for the MDC-T by foolishly claiming that the situation on the ground is not looking good,” said Moyo.

“Fortunately for us, the elections are being held in terms of the rule of law. Observers on the ground who have been in the country since the processes started are better placed to make rational and sensible comments about the situation on the ground than Lindiwe Zulu.”

Moyo said Zulu’s remarks showed that President Zuma’s facilitation team had “effectively disqualified itself as an impartial” mediator.

“If that is true (what Zulu reportedly said) then they risk being permanently ignored and irrelevant. If they keep playing games then irrelevance shall come sooner than they imagine. It is undiplomatic for communication between heads of States to be peddled in the newspapers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, confirmed that if Sadc gave the elections a clean bill of health and all parties accepted the outcome, the EU would lift its remaining sanctions on Mugabe and key members of his Zanu (PF).

"If the elections are indeed peaceful, transparent and credible we look forward to a full normalisation of relations with Zimbabwe," Van Rompuy said.

Mugabe, 89, and in power with Zanu (PF) since independence in 1980, has banned observers from Europe and the US.

If this is an objective report, why do they mention the age of President Mugabe? But not the age of everyone else? - MrK

Sadc and African Union observers will be the world’s eyes on the elections. The opposition MDC parties and civil rights activists in Zimbabwe have voiced concern that the elections will not be free and fair.

Those worried about the conduct of the elections have argued that the reform needed for the elections to be free and fair had not taken place. The reforms they had called for included changes to the electoral commission and the state media.

Further, they had wanted guarantees that the security forces would conduct themselves in a non-partisan and professional manner during the elections.

The reforms the opposition and rights activists have been clamouring for were part of the power-sharing agreement in place since 2009.

So far, there have been no signs of the extreme anti-MDC violence witnessed in the 2008 polls. But organisational problems and allegations of an inflated voters’ roll marred special voting by the security forces last weekend.

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